Chinese Wolfberry Germination
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Francine Turgeon
Posted on: February 16, 2003

I have purchased some chinese wolfberry seeds. I will be starting them in a fews days and was wondering how long they take to germinate as well as how big to these bushes or vine bushes get.

The seeds germinate in 6-9 days. The seeds come in dried berries which will contain a dozen or so seeds. You can separate the seeds from the pulp of the berry if you wish, but we find that that is not necessary because the seeds germinate readily. Stratification has been mentioned in some books, but we have never seen any need with the strain we sell.

The plants can get up to 2.5 meters (8 feet) high, and some references suggest that they can reach over 4 meters (13 feet) high! The plant is vine-like in its growth habit but it is not a true climber because the vines tend to descend if not supported.

I intend on giving them the proper conditions to grow in such as sandy soil and good drainage. The problem with the summers here is that it’s very hot and humid plus, our winters can get very cold and long. If I give these plants proper protection for winter (mulching etc...) and plenty of space (air circulation), drainage, do they need a specific kind of fertilizer?

No particular fertilizer is recommended or required if the soil is reasonably fertile. Perhaps an occasional top dressing of well-rotted manure even couple of years is worthwhile.

I live in a zone 3-4 , I can give them a 4-5 microclimate, am I pushing my luck? I enjoy a challenge and am willing to give it a try.

Wolfberry is rated hardy to USDA zones 5-8 in some references, and up to 9 in others. In your zone 3-4 you definitely will be pushing the limits of this plant. The sandy soil, mulching and wind protection will help, but you may find that you can get it to survive for a few years only to lose it after a particularly bad winter. Certainly it is worth trying though, because you can get leaves and berries to harvest after just a year or two. And in colder parts of China wolfberry is grown as an annual for the tender leaves used in cooking.

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